“There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them.”
– Ray Bradbury –
Lately, I’d noticed, that I had been committing the grave crime more and more. There’d be an interval of months before I picked up another book to read. And, the interval was getting longer and longer, as well.
So, came the New Year, when I spotted this ‘Book Reading Challenge’ on 9gag (although originally published on Popsugar.com) which caught my fascination. One line prompts for selecting the next book to read – fifty-two of them in total, translating to one book a week, but not quite so. It seemed like a proper plan for the New Year Resolution – “I will read more books this year.” – ‘more’ being the operative word here. So, I adopted it and have been working towards completing the challenge. Currently, I’m lagging behind in the schedule – I have just completed 9 books in a little over three months – but compared to my past record this is pretty good performance.
So, here’s a list of the books I’ve read under the challenge, till now, (in the order they’ve been read), and my (brief) thoughts on them.
- Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh – A Book with more than 500 Pages
First of the epic, epic, epic Ibis trilogy, the book is set during the British Raj in India just on the eve of the First Opium War. It is historical fiction, geographically covering the hinterlands of Bihar and Bengal, the City of Kolkata, Mauritius, China, England, America and obviously the vast expanse of the Sea. The main characters includes a religious women, a low caste carter, a Raja (King), an American sailor, a French girl, a Chinese opium addict, the French girl’s Bengali brother, a British merchant and his Bengali agent cum accountant and a Lascar. The lives of these characters, after running parallel for better part of the book, come together on the slaving schooner, the Ibis.
The book is an education in everything it touches upon – from the sea and sailors of the 19th century to the social injustice and malpractices of and during colonial India.
The second installment of the trilogy ‘River of Smoke’ was published in 2011 and the third one ‘Flood of Fire’ is expected to be released by the end of this year. I aim to read the two books back-to-back once the final installment is published.
- The Pillowman by Martin McDonagh – A Play
This book made my determination to complete the challenge more and more solid, because if not for the challenge I would’ve never ever ended up reading it – this spectacular piece of dark and comic literature.
The play is about a writer who’s being interrogated by two policemen about the short stories he’s written, all of which involve gruesome acts and children. It is just some 60 pages and after reading it you’ll end up longing for more. It is a must read for anyone who likes reading, but it is utterly important for anyone who likes writing.
- Animal Farm by George Orwell – A book with Non-Human Characters
“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
I do not have the authority to comment on this book. It is the definition of an allegory. Perfect.
- The Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri – A Pulitzer Prize Winning Book
It is a collection of 9 short stories and won the Pulitzer for Fiction in 2000. All the stories are about Indians and / or Indian Americans and how they deal with their culture inheritances in a foreign land & personal relations. Personally, of the lot, I liked three short stories the most which include the title story, ‘Interpreter of Maladies, “Mrs. Sen’s” and “The Third and Final Continent”.
- About a Boy by Nick Hornby – A Book Based on or Turned into a TV Show
This was up my alley – awkward and humorous. It’s about Will, a 36-year-old man whose finances are well-managed thanks to royalties from a Christmas Song, who meets Marcus, the oldest twelve-year-old on the planet. In most probability, one must’ve had seen the Hugh Grant movie or the TV Show based on the book but either way, it still would be a great idea to pick up the Book.
To be very honest, as awkward as Marcus is, I could relate to him mainly because of his penchant for staying away from everything emotionally icky.
- Last Man in Tower by Aravind Adiga – A Book From an Author You Love That You Haven’t Read
Aravind Adiga has won a Man Booker for his debut novel ‘The White Tiger’, which stands as one of my favorite books. This novel is a tale of a retired man, Yogesh Murthy a.k.a. Master ji who refuses to leave his home in an old apartment building against a generous offer from a builder who wants to redevelop the property. Master ji stands alone, in a battle for choice, against his neighbors, his son and the might of money. The book digs deep into the lives of the residents of the building, Vishram Society – Tower A, Master ji’s home, and dissects the thought process of an average middle class Indian.
This book does not measure up to the dark, satirical and humorous traits of ‘The White Tiger’, but still is a compelling read.
- The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams – A Popular Author’s First Book
A Classic. Cult Classic to be precise. Finding about the importance of mice and the number 42, I will soon be picking up the sequels from the five book trilogy.
- Stupid Guy Goes to India by Yukichi Yamamatsu – A Graphic Novel
“Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.”
– P.J. O’Rourke –
Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it – this was not one such book. I really wish I would’ve had picked any other book under the prompt. God! There’s a load of great books that fall under the category.
The story had nothing. The artwork was not impressive. It was a bit of a waste.
- Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome – A Book more than 100 Years Old
We had an excerpt from the third chapter of the book as a prose in our high school syllabus titles ‘Packing’. That is how I knew about the book. I fondly remember everyone in class had started with a snicker which had turned into a split by the end of the chapter. I also remember our English teacher saying that such prose shouldn’t be included in the syllabus rather we should be studying mind expanding and thought provoking literature, as we were already in high school. But what the hell does he know.
The Book, obviously, is a story of three men – George, Harris and the author with their dog, Montmorency, who go on a boat trip through the Thames. The humor in the book is timeless. A couple of changes in your mind and you wouldn’t know that the writing is more than a 100 years old.
So, these are the nine books that I have completed by now. Currently I’m reading ‘The Motorcycle Diaries’ by Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevera, of course, under the prompt – A Book that was Originally Written in a Different Language. Hope to up my reading speed and complete the challenge within the year.